Review: “The Prince of Egypt”

With so much hype surrounding this biblical epic, the big question is will it live up to it? The answer is both yes and no. To give you an idea of my mindset, I’m not religious nor have I read the bible. I do know many of the stories and have seen “The Ten Commandments” several times.

On a visual level, POE is stunning. The animation is superb and ground-breaking, the shots have a real epic feel to them, and some of the sequences (eg. Red Sea parting, hieroglyph dream) are downright amazing. Sure the CG and animated elements don’t blend together perfectly, but they’re darn close. Kudos also to the cast who do a great job all round, not a bad egg among them.

Sadly its the story, or rather lack thereof, that knaws into the beauty of this picture. Hiding behind the spectacle is a far too simple tale of two brothers who become enemies, a tale simple enough for the kids to understand but not engaging enough for adults to get into and so become slightly bored with. It could’ve worked with well-thought out characters but limps along with the mostly flat and unmemorable ones that populate the picture.

Both they and the story suffer because the harder-line elements of the exodus story have been toned down to make it both suitable for the young ‘uns and not to offend anyone, and as such fail because its still too dark for the littlies but not hard-line enough for the older audiences (who might get a bit ticked at having religion shoved down their throat). To give you an idea of this toning down, the ending of the picture feels like its missing about 20 minutes of footage – namely the scenes of sex & debauchery at the bottom of Mount Sinai which probably would’ve made the film more interesting.

The dialogue is also weak, lines like “I will not be the weak link” & “let my people go” are repeated at least 4-5 times in the picture which quickly pisses one off. God still sounds a heck of a lot like Val Kilmer. The score is a major disappointment. With the exception of the “Deliver Us” opening song, the five other numbers are not only completely forgettable but wreck the tone of the film, they could’ve done a lot better without them.

But I digress, despite the complaints its still a very epic and well-made movie. Is it the animated classic they’re making out to be or “The greatest story ever told”? Heck no. Is it worth getting your ass out of your chair and going to a cinema to see it? sure. Religious-types, like any fans of film franchises, will get a lot more out of it than those with only a passing interest in it. It’s a film trying to break the boundaries of animation and for that it should be applauded.